Friday, 8 May 2009

In which I promptly remember things I had just forgotten

Also, my mother worked for many years at a care facility for young people with special learning and developmental needs. For some of the others who worked there, it seemed it was just a job (which is fair enough); but for my mother, it was an opportunity to build really special relationships. Some of the children didn't have parents in their lives, and weren't very acquainted with a home life that was different from the slightly regimented, honestly boring as rocks care home. So sometimes my mum would bring them home for weekend visits or have them come out with us when she felt we were doing something they would enjoy.

One of the boys fell in love with her, and vice versa. He came to stay all the time. And at first, even though we had been taught to be polite to everyone, we really didn't care for him. He was about our age, so he wasn't cutesy to us the way a baby might be. And he was loud. He also had a lot of love to give, which was kind of the point, what my mother was trying to give him an outlet for, but we didn't really want it. He was very talented - he sang and played the keyboard - and was always making something with his hands. He had been born with a condition that caused the digits on his hands not to form or move separately, and was also born with one leg and wore a prosthetic limb. Sometimes the prosthesis would hurt, because he was still growing, so he would remove it and drag it around the house behind him.

Some of this was shocking for us at first, and once or twice when we complained to my mother about his noise or effusiveness, she would explain to him that sometimes people needed a little quiet time, or remind him about inside voices. But for the most part, she was having none of it from us. She knew it was our privilege talking - our unwillingness to be made in the least bit uncomfortable. And she gave us a huge, steaming pile of 'get over it'. She didn't have to say much. But I think the fact that our whole lives, we were shown that you have to share your world and your space and your kindness with other people, that she removed any sense of entitlement from us by opening our home up to others that she also entitled to what we had, was one of the most important lessons of my childhood.

That was 20 years ago. My mum is still working with children and still taking them home. We warn her that this is a different time, and one has to be careful of misunderstandings that might create a difficult situation with parents or authorities. Because even with the best intentions, it has been known to happen. All she says is that she hasn't had a misunderstanding yet. But she has enjoyed and helped a lot of wonderful children. And we can't really argue with that.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Creative Commons License
This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Licence